Monday, January 22, 1996

Speech hesitations in foreign languages

It's an interesting question, but, coming from a biligual
(English/Italian-native) stutterer, I would say that both the nature and intensity of the hesitations experienced in trying to speak a new language have very little, if anything, in common with those of stuttering. Foreign language hesitations appear simply cognitive in nature, those of stuttering seem to come "from somwhere else" and "feel" uncontrollable. Trying very hard to speak a foreign language DOES end up in more and more fluent speech. The opposite can happen with stuttering ("trying" hard can have the opposite effect). There absolutely nothing comparable to stuttering blocks in learning to speak a foreign language.

What could be an interesting research area (and it has been discussed on and off on this list) is how different levels of fluency (in a language sense) affect fluency in a stuttering sense (I wish we had different words to express the two notions), i.e. how stutterers perform as they reach different levels of foreign language ability. My subjective impression was that I actually stuttered LESS while I was in the beginning stages of learning English.

No comments: